The CCCAA championship hopes for the Hornets have come to an end after Friday’s 70-67 overtime loss to Allan Hancock College on Feb. 23, 2018.
In game that saw the Fullerton rally back to force overtime on its home court, in the end, the late game shots just didn’t fall for the team leading to a season ending loss.
“I think we left it all out there. I just think sometimes things don’t go your way and that was one of these nights,” said sophomore guard Jason Richardson, the team’s leader who finished the game with 24 points and nine assists.
Both offenses got to hot starts early matching each other shot for shot in the first half. The biggest lead being a six point Fullerton lead which was eventually cut to two as the half came to a close.
“We went out there and executed and did what we were supposed to do as far as game planning and stopping the other team,” Richardson said.
Fullerton built onto its lead to start the second half and went up by seven points in the first five minutes. The Bulldogs answered the Fullerton run with five 3-pointers of their own, bringing the team back into the game and into a 56-48 lead, the biggest of the night for the Bulldogs.
With just under five minutes left in the game, Fullerton rallied back to even the score at 60 a piece.
“We’re not the type of team to ever give up,” said sophomore guard Akil Reese. “You have to play hard for 40 minutes. We’re never going to give up and just let a team beat us.”
With overtime looming, the Hornets were left with an opportunity for a game winning shot with seconds left on the clock.
With just over four seconds left in regulation, sophomore guard Khalil Stevenson’s mid-range shot was no good but the rebound managed to find itself in the hands of his teammate Reese.
As the buzzer went off, Reese’s potential game winning jump shot kicked off the back of rim leaving the game tied, as it sent Fullerton into its second overtime contest of the season.
“Sometimes balls don’t just bounce your way,” Reese said.
In overtime, the game continued to go in favor of the Bulldogs, but Fullerton was able to stay within two points with just around 30 seconds remaining on the clock.
After sending the Bulldogs to the free throw line, the Hornets were left needing a 3-point play to keep the season alive.
With less than 10 seconds left, Reese moved the ball up the court, but was unable to shake free of his defender for an open shot. As Reese surveyed the court, he found Richardson open, but the Bulldog defense was all over him.
Richardson looked to shake free from his defender, leading to a loose ball which was quickly recovered by Stevenson. With the final second on the clock, Stevenson tossed up a desperation 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
Just as the horn sounded, Stevenson’s shot missed entirely, ending the game and the Hornets season.
The Hornets finish the 2017-18 season with an overall record of 20-8, and for another year under former Orange Empire Conference head coach of the year, Perry Webster, the team’s championship hopes remain unfulfilled.